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  1. #1
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    Columbia Trailhead 24" Issues

    Greetings,

    Bought one of these a couple years ago, $35 on C/L:

    Columbia Trailhead 24" Issues-dsc_1065.jpg

    Got it for my daughter for riding to school, but she never really used it, choosing to walk instead. She can still somewhat fit on it, but now my son is just getting big enough for it. So I'm thinking to put him on it. His current bmx still fits him fine, but he's not strong enough to get it up hills. This 24 should fit him for 2-3 years at least. And I can easily find a suitable 26 for her.

    It's got some issues, so we took it to an LBS for their feedback.

    A. It doesn't seem to roll all that well. My wife has tried it and complains about it being too heavy. I suspected maybe the hubs aren't turning well, but how does one test that? The shop guy didn't seem to think the wheels looked that bad.

    B. Originally the fork seemed to be locked up completely, and has since worked its way loose. I'm not sure it actually does very much though, especially for a lighter rider. The repair guy was concerned that since the seals are missing, it could either freeze up again, or do some other unpredictable behavior to throw the rider.

    C. The brakes are pretty lousy, no surprise there. He showed us how much the bodies on the levers flex. The pads are those really short kind that I can't imagine doing much no matter how dialed in.

    I asked about upgrades, and he really couldn't recommend them because Columbia is a "big box" brand. To me, the frame seems like the best part of the bike, and easily a couple notches above the level of stock components.

    As an alternative, he showed us a 24" Trek MT 220, for $350. Tbh, I wasn't hugely impressed with it as being much of a step up. I'm thinking that investing a fraction of that into upgrading the Columbia would make more sense. Some ideas:

    1. New levers and brakes. Avid SD7's should be around $70, and would stomp on anything else in the house. Could always take them off and keep them, once the bike is outgrown.

    2. The grip shifts that are on there are probably fine. If not, a new set of Shimano M310 3x7 are $25.

    3. Not a lot of fork choices, but the RST Capa 24 should be under $100 with the steerer (I assume the alloy is worth $22 vs $14 for chromo?). Not that it's a great fork, but won't it be a big step up from anything oem on a $300-range bike? Even when new, the stock one is probably there more for show than anything.

    4. For the deuraileurs, I assume it's a matter of tuning them first, then see how they do?

    5. The cranks are probably pretty lousy too, but I'd think just try them out for a while first, and get a better sense of what size rings make sense for him. or any suggestions there?

    6. One tough part is the paint. The Trek is a flashy bright green, clearly designed to appeal to an 8-yo. The Columbia would've seemed pretty boring even when new. Some bright colors in the components (grips, brake pads, etc) could help, given the target audience here. But can a frame be painted on the cheap, without making it look ghetto?

    Thanks for any feedback!!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockaRolla View Post
    Greetings,

    Bought one of these a couple years ago, $35 on C/L:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSC_1065.jpg 
Views:	492 
Size:	182.4 KB 
ID:	1002240

    Got it for my daughter for riding to school, but she never really used it, choosing to walk instead. She can still somewhat fit on it, but now my son is just getting big enough for it. So I'm thinking to put him on it. His current bmx still fits him fine, but he's not strong enough to get it up hills. This 24 should fit him for 2-3 years at least. And I can easily find a suitable 26 for her.

    It's got some issues, so we took it to an LBS for their feedback.

    A. It doesn't seem to roll all that well. My wife has tried it and complains about it being too heavy. I suspected maybe the hubs aren't turning well, but how does one test that? The shop guy didn't seem to think the wheels looked that bad.

    B. Originally the fork seemed to be locked up completely, and has since worked its way loose. I'm not sure it actually does very much though, especially for a lighter rider. The repair guy was concerned that since the seals are missing, it could either freeze up again, or do some other unpredictable behavior to throw the rider.

    C. The brakes are pretty lousy, no surprise there. He showed us how much the bodies on the levers flex. The pads are those really short kind that I can't imagine doing much no matter how dialed in.

    I asked about upgrades, and he really couldn't recommend them because Columbia is a "big box" brand. To me, the frame seems like the best part of the bike, and easily a couple notches above the level of stock components.

    As an alternative, he showed us a 24" Trek MT 220, for $350. Tbh, I wasn't hugely impressed with it as being much of a step up. I'm thinking that investing a fraction of that into upgrading the Columbia would make more sense. Some ideas:

    1. New levers and brakes. Avid SD7's should be around $70, and would stomp on anything else in the house. Could always take them off and keep them, once the bike is outgrown.

    2. The grip shifts that are on there are probably fine. If not, a new set of Shimano M310 3x7 are $25.

    3. Not a lot of fork choices, but the RST Capa 24 should be under $100 with the steerer (I assume the alloy is worth $22 vs $14 for chromo?). Not that it's a great fork, but won't it be a big step up from anything oem on a $300-range bike? Even when new, the stock one is probably there more for show than anything.

    4. For the deuraileurs, I assume it's a matter of tuning them first, then see how they do?

    5. The cranks are probably pretty lousy too, but I'd think just try them out for a while first, and get a better sense of what size rings make sense for him. or any suggestions there?

    6. One tough part is the paint. The Trek is a flashy bright green, clearly designed to appeal to an 8-yo. The Columbia would've seemed pretty boring even when new. Some bright colors in the components (grips, brake pads, etc) could help, given the target audience here. But can a frame be painted on the cheap, without making it look ghetto?

    Thanks for any feedback!!
    After reading I went back to the top...$35 was all you paid originally and you got your moneys worth.

    I'd say just find a better bike on craigs list.

    I got my sons 24 specialized hotrock for 100 overhauled the fork and lubed things up. Switch to 1x and it weighs in at 24lbs.

    How much does that columbia weigh? What kind of fork?

    Sent from my TouchPad using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply, hans!

    For my daughter, I just picked up a late 90's GT Backwoods, which was the nicest small/med (16") '26er' I could find in the $100 range. It's a little nicer spec than the Columbia, and I'll probably keep it mostly as-is, although the RS Jett fork seems pretty underwhelming. We've never done any off-road as a family, so how much I want to upgrade it will depend on how much she likes it.

    As far as what I'm finding in other 24's, nothing is really jumping out. Probably a lot to do with them just not being that popular, whereas the 26's are a dime a dozen. A lower Hotrock seems to be closer to $200 used, and still not necessarily a big step up.

    My thinking at this point is to get an air fork for it. Then change out the other components as we go. Especially anything that's universal, that we could later take off and transfer to a newer/larger bike when the time comes 3 years from now. With the internet, it's just too easy to find great closeout deals on stuff.

    We went through the bike a little last weekend. We pulled off all the decals, and while he's not crazy about the look of it yet (what 8-yo boy would be?), at least he dislikes it less.

    I lowered the handlebar (there was about 1/2" of spacers below the stem, which I moved to above the stem), and it fits him better now. I can see that all the components on it are pretty much junk, but I still feel like the frame is worth building upon.

    I took off the old saddle and stuck on a Bontrager Ti that I had sitting around. Might end up being a little long for him, and certainly very plain looking, but a good upgrade for now. The steel seatpost and handlebars definitely need to go soon. Actually I plan to get myself a new bar, so can probably try my old one on him.

    Biggest question is the drive train. I see that 1x10 is all the rage now, so need to decide on that, vs staying with 3x7 or similar.

  4. #4
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    I did 1x7. Stock freewheel with a 30t narrow wide ring I had laying around. Perfect gearing for my son. We mostly ride in the woods. Too much complication with 3 rings for kids and me too! 1x far simpler.

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